Don’t Let Them Get Away With It


Derek Clabby (above) in 2018, in #Kingsativa (top far right) and The Bionic Rats (middle pic foreground) and as Del Bionic with ‘Don’t Let Them Get Away with It.

Concert promoter Johnny Keenan (him off the telly) writes:

So many people can go through this life in complete ignorant bliss. Listening to poxy radio with one banal tune after the other. I kind of envy them in the sense they don’t seem to have any real concerns. But I certainly don’t want to live my life like that.

Seventeen years ago I booked the most politically astute band in the country at the time, #Kingsativa, for a venue in Kilkenny. Long before hashtags were all the rage I knew I was dealing with something real and raw and on the edge.

The bass player and main lyricist of these band of reggae soul brothers was Derek Clabby known now  as Del Bionic.

Coming out of Kilbarrack this man has being writing killer tunes since he was a boy. Inspired and influenced by the reggae vibes and ska beats of Jamaica, he brings his own Dubland style.

And, it’s fair to say he is the longest gigging and most consistent musician of this gratifying genre on the island right now.

Always moving forward he is now singer and songwriter of Ireland’s biggest secret… The Bionic Rats

It’s a tribute to his spirit and consistency that since he first started performing in 1992 he never faltered or sold out.

However when I hear the anger and frustration in this newly penned piece I am also angry and frustrated. For different reasons though.

As a lover and promoter of music I can’t understand how someone that has consistently soundtracked Dublin and Ireland for 26 years is not known to radio stations in the capital. Apart from Near Fm and a few more mavericks.

When a citizen of our country gives his heart mind and soul by holding a mirror up to society and highlighting the good the bad the beautiful and the ugly, surely he deserves a platform.

I’m sick of seeing frustrated artists blacklisted by corporate radio stations..

And for RTÉ not to have a real music show covering alternative music from Ireland is actually unbelievable.

This battered and broken republic should be dancing to a beat of many alternative tunes.

In the meantime I for one am thankful that serious sound heads like Derek Clabby are there to remind me what it’s all about.

Derek Clabby (Del Bionic)

41 thoughts on “Don’t Let Them Get Away With It

    1. Johnny Keenan

      Sorry Ciaran. Don’t waste your time and mine. You don’t think I wrote this post on a whim do ya?
      Dan Hegarty is good but it’s a specialised show on late at night.
      I’m obviously talking about a real effort to highlight the real alternative scene. The counterculture thats is prevalent all over the country and never gets played on national radio.
      Before you or anybody else says ‘Other Voices’. It’s the same voices and any other ones are from further afield from Ireland.

      1. Killian G

        + A Billion

        I dont bother listening to RTE so I do not know if it plays altermative music or not. What I know is that it odes not play what I would call subversive or anti-establishment music. Same for any other form of art. And same too for subversive political, economic, social opinion. If it is truly a national broadcaster, which it does claim to be, it wouid represent, reflect and give a platform to ALL VOICES and ALL PERSPECTIVES in society. And this includes the likes of Derek Clabby.

        BY the way Johnny – Great Call. I remember Kingsativa from yonks ago in the DA Club in town. Brilliant and important and necessary voice.

        1. A spectator

          Good on ye Johnny.

          There isn’t enough rebellion in Pop Culture anymore
          It’s focused on complacency and conforming.
          It has no edge, no legitimacy, no purpose.

          It won’t be broadcasted unless it fits in.
          So seduction becomes the key, and we all jump on the Merry-Go-Round.

          Then we start again. Nothing happens.

          Rap Music used to be a form of rebellion.
          Nowadays it’s a way to seduce someone to fupp you. Some rich bloke who wears sunglasses indoors.

          I hope YOU can get the jist of this Blanksheet…
          It took me AGES to type it out, one letter at a time. I was going to post a photo of the finger I typed it with but there was another finger involved…

          1. I robbed this avatar.

            First off, robbing and stealing are different.

            START AGAIN…

            Dear Johnny Bodger…
            – I know you’re busy getting your hair fixed for next Thursday. I understand your priorities.

            But still…

            YOU are Bertie
            Of course you are…

            I think it’s funny. that you think it’s funny.
            It isn’t funny.

            Actually, it IS funny.

            Stop fighting you dopey f.

      2. Optimus Grime

        Johnny totally agree. 2FM has totally been sanitised and Phantom never stood a chance. No Disco probably represented the last bastion of the Irish indie scene but that got dropped. Any alternative act these days needs to be anointed by Montrose before it’ll get any play.
        But hey if the kids aren’t challenged by music with opinion then they’ll never revolt! A friend of mine put it best “When you have access to all the music then the sense of discovery and ownership is gone”. That’s a powerful connection that has evaporated thanks to the internet.

        1. Johnny Keenan

          Spot on Optimus. Great analysis and great examples of great shows in the past.
          Internet killed the curiosity of the creator looking at the stars.
          From the gutter though Irish music looks very rebellious and bright

  1. anyone

    king sativa are very average, with poor production values

    that’s why no one has ever heard of them johnny

      1. anyone

        Thanks Johnny, just an observation
        I’ve been listening to their stuff for a long time thought they had finished up actually

        1. Johnny Keenan

          Anyone, they burnt out in 2005. The Bionic Rats formed from the ashes.
          Listen to #Kingsativa one and only album ‘We Did Then’ released in 2003. On listening to the riffs licks beats and lyrics you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

  2. some old queen

    Have you ever noticed how most ‘music’ 2FM play is high pitched screechy vocals? And is there some odd 50% quota of auto tuned songs they must play?

    Shouldn’t be surprised really when their day time ‘stars’ are friggen Nicky Byrne and Jenny Green mind.

    1. Johnny Keenan

      Exactly SOQ. If you tune into any regional radio station it has the same bleeding ear sound. Any radio station with the demographic of age group 13-26 have figured out scientifically how to mess up the kids with high pitched frequency. It’s a form of brainwashing. All noise no substance.
      Now 2fm are at.
      Someone had the link, no doubt.

      1. anyone

        It’s just a phase we’re going through I hope

        it’s cool that kids are still listening to their own tunes

        that’s the whole point

        it’s not to meant to be for old fogies like us

  3. Bull Haggers

    Let’s be honest –
    He may have come from the ” most politically astute band ” but I’d rather listen to one of my cows breaking wind than that pile of manure.
    I mean,c’mon lad,he’s a poor man’s Rubberbandits and they’re so bad I wouldn’t hose them down if they were being burned alive.
    Now Joey D I could listen to all day.

  4. Custo

    I used to go watch the Bionics every Sunday in the Foggy Dew for years. Till it got a bit nasty and some bloke got glassed in the face one night for no reason during a massive brawl.
    Scary shit.

    But the band were /are great and Derek was always a sound bloke.

    His DJ sets were class afterwards.

  5. Joxer

    Johnny….thanks for this…. there is no space for anything other than the hits that will drive listeners to the station. good of you to point out NearFM for a mention, almost a pirate attitude to them at times….play it and be dammed

    i used to do a show on JazzFM back in the day and in my mind it was one of the better pirates (but then i am biased as soul funk and Jazz is my bag anyway) but we need that sense again… or maybe a collective run by the presenters

    anyway keep promoting and pushing the alternative!!

    1. Johnny Keenan

      Sound out Joxer.
      I noticed jazz fm is off the dial. On my car anyway.
      If it wasn’t for the pirates nothing would have changed on this backwater. Now the corporate cock sucking commercial radio stations bought up by O’Brien and the muppets in control at 2fm are strategically trying to kill Rock n’ Roll. It’s a world wide strategy. Anything that makes us think. Rebel reggae, provocative punk, skinhead ska.
      I booked Hollie Cook (daughter of Paul Cook Drummer of Sex Pistols)for ‘Another Offaly Good Vibe’ in 2012.
      I said she is to reggae what Sade is to RnB.
      She can’t get played on mainstream radio.
      IMO reggae is the most powerful music of the zeitgeist. It encompasses everything that is free and easy with a strong political message to endeavor to burn down Babylon.
      The suits stiffs and squares worst nightmare.

      Chill out to
      Hollie Cook

  6. Hicksonian

    Honourable campaign to rewire the autotune collective. The national broadcaster is back to wearing no clothes and the TV version have gone internal organs for their nakedness. Seeing as we’re on the shameless plug parade, if you’re about this Thursday 22nd in Dublin, there’s an homage to RTE’s No Disco in MVP down Clanbrassil St. Upper, Dublin 8. Buckle up for the Irish Indie love in.

    1. Johnny Keenan

      Thanks Hicksonian. Yeah No Disco was a kick ass alternative show. Thursday nights on RTÉ was good once upon a time.
      Donal Dinneen knows his tunes. Brilliant on Today Fm for years. He has his own online show now. It’s brilliantly shot by Myles O’Reilly.

      I won’t get to Dublin on Thursday unfortunately.
      Shoegaze on my flowered friend

    1. I robbed this avatar.

      ‘See mi in me pants an; t’ing’

      Paradoxically, believe it if you like, that was the line that made me a feminist.

      You people think Reggae isn’t a form of rebellion. A voice.
      You don’t see how it changes things.

      Politricks are tricks.
      I’m drunk.

      Let’s win…

      1. Johnny Keenan

        Great to feel your vibes again memes. Let the thread do it’s job now and we’ll get something sewed up here.

        1. I robbed this avatar.

          Thanks Johnny.

          Certain elements want me silenced.
          – for making jokes they misconstrue as personal attacks. It’s nothing like that..

          We live on the same planet Johnny.
          We come from the same place.
          We Are ONE.
          Buck the free-grudgers.

      2. I robbed this avatar.

        Also. I was the DJ in the DA Club when King Sativa played.
        No messin’… That was me.
        I know I said it before but most of me stuff gets deleted..

        I’m over it.
        I’m a much better DJ nowadays, but we have a bigger fight to fight.these days. Those days are over. :-)

        Love and live.
        Live and love.
        – It’s easy.

        1. I robbed this avatar.

          Thanks Johnny.

          Too many people throw their lives away looking for easy enemies, easy targets…
          I can corral them… You keep fighting from the Frontline. I’ll keep kicking them up the ass.


          1. Johnny Keenan

            Some people want to annoy people with music memes. Others want to unite people with music. You’re the latter.
            One of the best music experiences was hearing your Coronation St reggae mix. Throw it up dare will ya

  7. Tina Tequila

    look you beautiful baxtard I’m about to hit you up with some holy truth

    – counter-cultural art, by its very definition, will never be mainstream.
    – reggae has a limited appeal in a conservative, 95% white country
    – a white guy singing reggae has an even more limited appeal

    hence your boy is probably hitting the peak of what he could realistically expect.

    question is: has he toured internationally? if not, why not?

  8. Killian G

    Howarya Tina Know-nothing Tequila! I Love how people who strut on and proclaim that they are about to deliver the holy truth pretty much always don t know what they are talking about.

    The Bionic Rats came out of Kingsativa and they’re one of the biggest ska/reggae bands in Europe right now. Yes EUROPE. Over years they have played with Madness, Bad Manners, Horace Andy, Israel Vibration, Johnny Clarke and wait the fupp for it – Lee Scratch Perry. In Ireland they have played and toured with Damien Dempsey and Imelda May (who does also happen tp be Derek Clabbys cousin). They have been on the main stage of the UKs One Love Festival which is the biggest reggae festival in Europe right now. Probably in the world actually. ALso stalwarts of the London International Ska Festival. Their music has been used in films (The Flag) and advertising (Dr Martens).

    So thanks for your patronising, small minded “hitting the peak of what he could realistically expect”. How about compare your achievements for us to see? HOw do they compare ?

    1. Johnny Keenan

      Savage Cabbage!
      I wanted to ease Del’s profile in to the BS readers and viewers because he is a chilled and modest guy.
      Everything you said Killian is spot on again. Yer obviously a big fan.
      Ya know all the stuff he turned down then
      In fairness to memes or what ever handle his on this week he is also a fan for a long time to.

      1. Amy Band

        Great post and responses Johnny ;)

        Didn’t know that Bionic Rats had such a profile thanks for informing us Killian, you’ve really proved Johnny’s point there about bastards in the State broadcaster but there are some outliers with other genres eg

        To be fair Fanning used to do his bit for the indie locals but he seems to be only on at stupid o’clock now and no live acts any more – only similar show I can think of is “locals only” on Nova on Sundays where I recently heard Junior Brother for the first time :)

        Peter Browne does champion local traddies however on the “rolling wave” program and Lyric looks at the unheralded composers in their sphere, while the likes of their “blue in the night” program also feature native jazzers.

        The main issues you raise appear to be with some of the roots style music that used to be played by the like of PJ curtis and Niall Toner. Until RTE hires more John Kelly’s and Carl Corcoran’s and less Larry Wogan’s this situation will persist. I see a lot of criticism of 2fm there but to be fair it’s always been a commercial station and just follows current trends other than the example I gave above.

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